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June 12, 2013
McRae top pick in Rocky Top; rosters inside
Brent Watts' game plan for the Pilot Rocky Top League Draft wasn't all that different than what his game plan will be when the league tips off next week.
Get the best player available - Watts' Campus Lights team held the No. 1 overall pick - and get him the ball.
Watts did so Wednesday night at Ray's ESG in Knoxville, picking Tennessee's Jordan McRae first overall. Now it's just about getting McRae the ball Monday night at Christian Academy of Knoxville.
"Scoring first in mind here, the All-SEC performer was a no-brainer," Watts said of McRae, who was a first-team All-SEC pick after leading the Vols in points per game (15.7), minutes played per game (33.6), 3-pointers made (60) and 3-point percentage (.355).
Watts had McRae in mind over the next nine rounds of the draft, too.
"Get guys (that) get Jordan the ball," Watts said of his draft philosophy. "Rebound shots. Get (Jordan) the ball. And get the ball back to him if he misses."
Watts knows all too well what McRae's capable of.
The 6-foot-5 utility guard scored 20 or more points 10 times for the Vols during his junior season, including a 34-point night against LSU and a career-high 35 at Georgia.
That was nothing compared to the 64-spot McRae put on Watts' team last year in a Rocky Top League game.
Watts had understandably seen enough.
"Watching the season, watching the Vols play," he said. "And the fact that he scored 64 on me last year."
Tennessee's Josh Richardson was the second overall pick, followed by former Vols Wayne Chism at No. 3 and Bobby Maze at No. 4.
Incoming freshman Robert Hubbs - rated by Rivals as a 5-star prospect out of Newbern's Dyer County High School - was the fifth overall pick. Boo Jackson, last year's No. 1 overall pick, was the sixth and final pick of the first round.
The league will play three games a night (6 p.m., 7:30 and 9) on Monday and Wednesday night over the next three weeks (June 17, 19, 24 and 26; July 1, July 3).
Cold, Cold Air: With temperatures in the 90s Wednesday, it was a stuffy reminder of Rocky Top League games in the non-air conditioned Bearden High School gymnasium.
Those memories are in the past, though, with the league moving this year to the air conditioned Christian Academy of Knoxville gym.
"That's going to be a huge feature," league director Andre Whitehead said. "A lot of the older fans, it will bring back a lot of them.
"It was just so ridiculously hot (at Bearden). Then when you get a bunch of people piled in it just gets worse."
Legend Status: Six players were designated as 'Legend Picks' - former Vols who will play when available.
Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris was the first legend off the board, followed by Chris Lofton, Cameron Tatum, Tyler Smith, Skylar McBee and John Fields.
"The way we decided to do that was in the past, all those guys have called me and told me they wanted to play," Whitehead said. "But inevitably some guys show up, some don't. They may show up for a game or two.
"We would put them in the draft, then guys would draft them, high, and they wouldn't show up so it kind of ruins their team."
The legend status saved those wasted draft picks.
"We basically placed them on a team and when they show, they'll play," Whitehead said. "And you don't have to waste a draft pick.
"Is there a chance they could show up six times? Sure. But I wouldn't count on any of those guys being there more than once or twice."
Pilot Rocky Top League
(Players listed in order drafted by team)
Tobais Harris (Legends Pick)
Rice Buick GMC
Chris Lofton (Legends Pick)
Tony White Jr
Skylar McBee (Legends Pick)
Tyler Smith (Legends Pick)
Cameron Tatum (Legends Pick)
Jon Fields (Legends Picks)